Rehearsals are where all the Musical Theatre creativity happens, ahead of the time you sit in the audience and see the finished product.
I don't mean ALL the creativity, of course. I recently chatted to the legendary Broadway song writer, Marc Shaiman, who was sat on a zoom link in his studio new New York, as he told me about his creative process. Marc is the genius who wrote the music for Hairspray, Mary Poppins returns and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, to name just three of his shows.
Writing the songs and the script is the preparation that happens in advance, but the choreography, the directing and the performance all happen during the rehearsals. I attend quite a few rehearsals and see what happens away from the audience. Last weekend I was among the talented performers who're preparing for Mossley Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Societies upcoming show, School of Rock, that will be performed at the George Lawton Hall in Mossley from Tuesday 28th November to Saturday 2nd December.
The first time you walk into a rehearsal room, which in this case was a school hall, it feels chaotic and it can be hard to imagine what the show will look like when it's finished. When I went along to interview cast and creatives, they had only eight more rehearsals to go. There was no scenery, no stage and the musical accompaniment was simply the musical director on a single key board.
The energy in the room, though, was amazing. School of Rock is a show, as the title suggests, centres on a school, so therefore there are lots of children in the show. I asked director Sam if she feared working with youngsters, but she explained that they were less set in their habits and more receptive to her direction, which was more rewarding for her. I can't wait to see the show. I know what to expect from the show as I’ve seen shows from this brilliant Society many times before and I have no doubts about the quality of everyone at Mossley AODS.
Last week I was at Manchester's Opera House for the World Premiere of a brand new musical. This was the first public performance of I Should Be so Lucky, the Juke Box Musical using the songs of Stock Aitken and Waterman. Encouraged by the continuing success of Mamma Mia!, who'll celebrate twenty five years in the West End next year, the show is set at a holiday resort in Turkey as the jilted bride goes on the honeymoon with her family and friends.
Kylie Minogue appears as a reflection in the heroine's bedroom mirror, encouraging her to believe in herself. The show's songs were originally sung, and were big hits, by Kylie, Mel & Kim, Rick Astley, Bananarama and Sinitta, to name a few. One of the reasons I wanted to be there on opening night, as I'm going again in a couple of weeks, was to see the changes and tweaks that are bound to happen.
I saw it happen with Back to the Future, when it opened in Manchester. Scenes were tightened, a song was dropped and jokes changed. The creatives wanted to see how the audience would receive their show because it's all very well working away in the rehearsal room, but you won't know how the audience reacts, until there is one. I think there's room for tightening and making the story easier to understand from that first performance, so it'll be interesting to see what, if any changes, take place during it's month long residency at the Opera House.
Join me Sunday from 7pm on Tameside Radio 103.6FM when you’ll hear the final part of my interview with Marc Shaiman, Sam the director of School of Rock and Kristi from the Globe San Diego.